RESEARCH GRANTS IN THE ARTS: Program Description

Deadlines:

Part 1 - Submit to Grants.gov

March 28, 2022 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time

Prepare application material so that it’s ready to upload when the Applicant Portal opens

Part 2 - Submit to Applicant Portal

March 31-April 7, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

Earliest Announcement of Award or Rejection

November 2022

Earliest Start Date for Proposed Project

Research Grants in the Arts: January 1, 2023

Research Grants in the Arts support research studies that investigate the value and/or impact of the arts, either as individual components of the U.S. arts ecology or as they interact with each other and/or with other domains of American life.

This is a year of transition for the NEA’s research program. Priorities that were expressed in a new five-year research agenda for the agency will be more fully reflected next year in the NEA’s FY 2024 Research Grants in the Arts application guidelines. Until then, the NEA will entertain research grant proposals that address any of the topic areas below.

As in previous years, we are interested in research covering one or more of these topic areas:

  • Factors that enhance or inhibit arts participation or arts/cultural assets;
  • Detailed characteristics of arts participation or arts/cultural assets, and their interrelationships;
  • Individual-level outcomes of arts participation, specifically outcomes corresponding with the following domains:
    • social and emotional well-being,
    • creativity, cognition, and learning, and
    • physiological processes of health and healing
  • Societal or community-level outcomes of arts/cultural assets, specifically outcomes corresponding with the following domains:
    • civic and corporate innovation,
    • attraction for neighborhoods and businesses, and
    • national and/or state-level economic growth

With these guidelines, however, the NEA now also welcomes research proposals in any of three additional topic areas, as identified by the NEA’s new five-year research agenda. Those new topic areas are:

  • The arts’ role in the healing and revitalization of communities;
  • Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the arts; and
  • The evolving arts ecology: arts organizations, venues, or places of arts learning; artists and other cultural workers; and arts consumers and learners

Applicants are welcome to address any of the aforementioned topics, from the previous (FY 2017-2021) research agenda or from the three emergent domains of interest. 

Also welcome are studies that address research recommendations and priorities published in recent NEA publications. Examples of recent NEA reports that include research recommendations are Tech as Art: Supporting Artists Who Use Technology as a Creative Medium, Living Traditions: A Portfolio Analysis of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Folk & Traditional Arts Program, and The Arts in Neighborhood Choice.

The NEA is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, and fostering mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all individuals and groups.

Projects and Research Methods

Some of the most compelling research about the arts has originated with non-arts specialties: economics, for example, with its lessons about the arts' contributions to the economy as well as the arts’ role in manufacturing and product design or innovation; cognitive neuroscience, with its discoveries about the arts' role in shaping human development and learning-related outcomes; urban planning work that seeks to understand the arts as a marker of community vitality; and psychological, physical health-related, or therapeutic studies that posit the arts' relationship to individual health and wellness. We anticipate applications from diverse research fields (e.g., economics; psychology; education; sociology; medicine, health, and therapy; communications; business administration; urban and regional planning) in addition to projects that address a diverse array of topics concerning the value and/or impact of the arts. Similarly, we expect our awards portfolio to be diverse in terms of research focus area, research design, and geographical distribution.

Applicants may propose research projects drawing from a variety of research design characteristics; these include but are not limited to, community-based participatory research, third-party summative program evaluations, translational research, single-case and multi-case studies, complex surveys, bibliometrics and meta-analysis, and quasiexperimental or experimental study designs.

In recent years, the NEA has supported a growing cohort of studies that hypothesize a cause-effect relationship between the arts and key outcomes of interest (e.g., in health, education, or the economy). For projects seeking to demonstrate such impacts, experimental approaches (e.g., randomized controlled trials) are generally preferred. Where experimental approaches are not feasible, then high-quality, quasi-experimental design studies offer an attractive alternative for impact studies about the arts.

Data Sources and Analysis

Projects supported under this program must include data analysis activities, and can include either primary and/or secondary data sources. We do not fund projects that focus exclusively on data acquisition.

Data analysis may include quantitative, qualitative, and/or mixed-method approaches. Data sources may include, but are not limited to, surveys, censuses, biological or medical experiments, observations, interviews, focus groups, social media activity, administrative data, and transactional/financial data. Other examples of data sources include archived materials such as written documents, audio/video recordings, or photographs and images.

We welcome the use of data in both the public and private domain, including commercial and/or administrative data sources. Visit the NEA website for a partial list of publicly available datasets that include arts-related variables. Some of these datasets are also available through the NEA’s public data repository: the National Archive of Data on Arts & Culture (NADAC).

Recommended Partnerships

Although not required to do so, applicants are strongly encouraged to include project teams that enable substantial input and participation from arts practitioners and researchers/evaluators. If applicants do not already have research staff in their organizations, then they are strongly encouraged to collaborate with other organizations, entities, or individuals who will be able to support the technical requirements of the research project. By the same token, applicants that do not have an arts practitioner serving on the project are strongly encouraged to collaborate with other organizations, entities, or individuals who will be able to provide any artistic or arts field perspectives as needed.

Award Information

We anticipate awarding 10 to 20 grants, based on the availability of funding.

Grants will range from $10,000 to $100,000. For projects that intend solely to use pre-existing data—and that will not involve primary data collection—we anticipate making awards in the $10,000-$50,000 range. Projects that include primary data collection as part of the research activities are eligible for awards between $10,000 and $100,000.

Grants cannot exceed 50% of the total cost of the project. All grants require a nonfederal cost share/match of at least 1 to 1. These cost share/matching funds may be all cash or a combination of cash and in-kind contributions, and can include federally-negotiated indirect costs. You may include in your Project Budget cost share/matching funds that are proposed but not yet committed at the time of the application deadline.

In developing an application, we urge all applicants to consider the grant award levels of recent awards and to request a realistic grant amount. Applicants should review the lists of grants on our website to see recent grant award levels and project types.

Applicants whose projects are recommended for less than the requested amount will have the opportunity to revise the project budget to reflect any necessary changes to the project, based on the recommended funding amount.

We reserve the right to limit our support of a project to a particular phase(s) or cost(s). All costs included in your Project Budget must be expended during your period of performance. Costs associated with other federal funds, whether direct or indirect (e.g., flow down through a state arts agency), can't be included in your Project Budget. No pre-award costs are allowable in the Project Budget. Costs incurred before the earliest project start date of January 1, 2023, can't be included in your budget or cost share/match.

We expect our awards portfolio to be diverse in terms of research focus area, research design, and geographical distribution.

All applications submitted and grants made in response to these guidelines are subject to the NEA’s grant regulations and terms and conditions.

Period of Performance

Our support of a project may start on or after January 1, 2023. Grants generally may cover a period of performance of up to two years, with an exception for projects that include primary data collection as part of the proposed activity. Projects that include primary data collection may request up to three years. Projects that extend beyond one year will be required to submit an annual progress report, and must include updated human ethics training and Institutional Review Board (IRB) materials as necessary.

A grantee may not receive more than one NEA grant for the same activities during the same period of performance.

Applicant Eligibility

Official applicant organizations must be:

  • Nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organizations;
  • Units of state or local government; or
  • Federally recognized tribal communities or tribes.

This may include colleges and universities.

For projects that involve multiple organizations, one organization that meets the eligibility requirements below must act as the official applicant, submit the application, and assume full responsibility for the grant. Partnering organizations are not required to meet the eligibility requirements below.

To be eligible, the official applicant organization must:

  • Meet the NEA’s "Legal Requirements," including nonprofit, tax-exempt status at the time of application. (All organizations must apply directly on their own behalf. Applications through a fiscal sponsor/agent are not allowed. See more information on fiscal sponsors/agents.)
  • Have completed a three-year history of operations prior to the application deadline.

Eligible organizations that received American Rescue Plan (ARP) or CARES Act funding may apply to this program as long as there are no overlapping costs during the same grant period.

All applicants must have a Unique Entity Identifier (prior to April 4, 2022: a DUNS number; on or after April 4, 2022: a Unique Entity Identifier assigned by SAM), be registered with the System for Award Management (SAM, www.sam.gov), and maintain an active SAM registration until the application process is complete, and should a grant be made, throughout the life of the award.

The following are not eligible to apply as the official applicant organization:

  • The designated 50 state and six jurisdictional arts agencies (SAAs) and their regional arts organizations (RAOs). SAAs and RAOs may serve as partners in projects. However, they may not receive NEA funds (except as provided through their designated grant programs), and SAA/RAO costs may not be included as part of the required cost share/match. SAAs and RAOs are eligible to apply through the Partnership Agreements guidelines.
  • An organization whose primary purpose is to channel resources (financial, human, or other) to an affiliated organization if the affiliated organization submits its own application. This prohibition applies even if each organization has its own 501(c)(3) status. For example, the "Friends of ABC Museum" may not apply if the ABC Museum applies.

Late, ineligible, and incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Applications will not be transferred from Research Grants in the Arts to NEA Research Labs or vice versa.

Competition for Research Grants in the Arts is extremely rigorous. It is expected that an applicant organization selected to receive an award will complete the research project. We will not transfer the award to another organization.

Application Limits

  • An organization may submit more than one application under these Research Grants in the Arts guidelines. In each case, the request must be for a distinctly different project. However, an organization will not receive more than one Research Grants in the Arts award in any given cycle.
  • Applicants to the Research Grants in the Arts program may apply to other NEA funding opportunities, within the same fiscal year, including NEA Research Labs. However, each request must be for a distinctly different project.
  • An organization will not receive both a Research Grants in the Arts award and a new NEA Research Lab award in the same fiscal year.

Application Review

Review Criteria

Applications will be reviewed on the basis of agency-wide criteria of artistic excellence and artistic merit. For the Research Awards programs, artistic excellence and artistic merit can be considered as research excellence and research merit, respectively, as they relate to the bullets below.

The following are considered during the review of applications:

Artistic Excellence of the Project:

  • Is the research plan clear and effective? This includes the conceptual framework, research design, sampling techniques, and/or data sources, and the proposed analytical methods, in addition to the relationship of these elements to the proposed research questions. This also includes the appropriateness of the research questions to the Research Grants in the Arts program.
  • Is there a sufficient evidence base for the research plan? This includes evidence that the research plan is informed by a literature review and/or citations of previous work or research (either published or unpublished) that support the conceptual framework and proposed research approach.
  • Are the organization, its partners, and project personnel qualified to execute the research plan? This includes credentials and past accomplishments in conducting research of the type proposed. As appropriate, this includes active, unexpired ethics training in human research for relevant personnel, and the project’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) plans and/or status. This also includes the appropriateness of the research and/or artistic disciplines represented on the project team.
  • Does the project include effective strategies, including quality control measures, to document progress and success during the period of performance? This includes any milestones that the organization plans to achieve during the project as well as beyond the life of the grant. This also includes any processes that ensure fidelity of the data collection/analysis and program/therapy implementation through routine monitoring and oversight.
  • Have the organization and partners devoted adequate resources to execute the entire project? This includes appropriateness of the budget, other resources, and the degree of involvement by project personnel.

Artistic Merit of the Project:

  • Does the project have high potential to bridge arts-related research with policy and/or practice in at least one of the following ways:

    • Likely to yield results that are generalizable, even for discrete populations or practitioner groups.
    • Likely to spur innovation in arts-related research, policy, or practice.
    • Likely to allow more than one field, sector, or population subgroup to benefit from arts-related research.
    • Where appropriate, likely to yield results benefiting historically underserved groups, including those for whom opportunities to experience the arts are limited.
  • Does the project include effective strategies to promote and disseminate the research results, products, and data? This includes distribution strategies to make the research findings, products, and data accessible to the public and to other researchers and practitioners, beyond the materials that would be posted to the NEA’s website. This also may include a record of past accomplishments in publishing or distributing research results, and the data management plan, as appropriate.

What Happens to Your Application

After processing by our staff, applications are reviewed, in closed session, by interdisciplinary research and evaluation advisory panelists. Each panel comprises a diverse group of arts-research experts and other individuals, including at least one knowledgeable layperson. Panels are convened remotely. Panel membership changes regularly. The panel recommends the projects to be supported, and the staff reconciles panel recommendations with the funds that are available. These recommendations are forwarded to the National Council on the Arts, where they are reviewed in an open, public session.

The Council makes recommendations to the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Chairman reviews the recommendations for grants in all funding categories and makes the final decision on all grant awards. Applicants are then notified of funding decisions. It is anticipated that applicants will be notified of award or rejection in November 2022.

NOTE: All recommended applications undergo review to evaluate risk posed by the applicant prior to making a federal award. This may include past performance on grants and cooperative agreements, meeting reporting deadlines, compliance with terms and conditions, audit findings, etc.

After notification, applicants with questions may contact the staff. Any applicant whose request has not been recommended may ask for an explanation of the basis for denial. In such instances, the NEA must be contacted no later than 30 calendar days after the official notification.